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    What is the Bing Business Portal and How Can It Benefit Your Local Business?

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Bing’s latest announcement of the Bing Business Portal, its new online listing service, provides a great opportunity for local businesses who want to build a stronger web presence and get found by more consumers searching online. The new Business Portal replaces the Bing Local Listing Center, offering improvements and custom features that can help your local business listing stand out on the Web – and the mobile Web, too!

    New Features and Benefits

    You may already know that adding your local listing to Bing can help your local business get found by consumers searching on Bing. But here’s the cool part. One of the major draws of the new Bing Business Portal is the array of unique features it offers to help you promote your business via your local listing. These handy features include:

    A Mobile Listing. Not only will more than 50% of Americans have a Smartphone by the end of this year, but 43% of those who conduct a mobile search walk through the door, and 22% make a purchase. So, it’s in your best interest to build a mobile-friendly web presence.  The new Bing listings are optimized for mobile devices, complete with features that let you customize your listing colors, highlight specific products or services, and add a map and a Click-to-Call button.

    A QR Code. A QR code is a type of barcode that includes information like text, a URL, or other data that can be read by a Smartphone or QR reader. Bing also provides you with a window sticker containing this QR code that you can print out and display in your storefront or other location. Then, when a consumer scans this code, they’re taken to your mobile Bing listing where they can learn more about your business.

    Special Deals. With the popularity of group buying and deal sites like Groupon and now, Facebook Deals, it’s evident that consumers like great deals and discounts from local businesses. Bing’s deal editor lets you create a coupon, promotion or rebate, add details like a description, expiration date and any restrictions. Then, you can promote it in your business listing and even publish it to your Facebook page.

    Custom Menus. Specifically for restaurant and bar owners, Bing now lets you create or upload a menu that is displayed on your mobile site.

    Additional Users. You can authorize users other than yourself, such as a marketing or business manager, to manage your local listing.

    Claim Your Bing Local Listing

    When you’re ready, claim your local listing on the Bing Business Portal.  If you already claimed your listing on the Bing Local Listing Center, chances are your listing was automatically moved over to the new Portal. But it’s important to make sure your listing still shows up and that all your information is up to date. This is also a great time to enhance your listing with all the features listed above.

    Similar to setting up your Google Places page, claiming your listing on Bing is easy, and it will allow your business to show up in the Bing local search results.  Just visit the Bing Business Portal home page and click “Get Started Now” to look up your business information.  You can claim and edit an existing business, or add a new one. Then, verify your listing via phone or mail. According to Bing, if you verify by phone, you’ll be done in just a few minutes. 

    After your listing is verified, you can add additional information about your business in your profile, such as by uploading photos, defining products or services and their prices, and adding your Facebook and Twitter web addresses. All your information will show up on your web profile as well as your mobile Bing listing. 

    So, what do you think of the new Bing Business Portal? What new features will you take advantage of? What other enhancements would you like to see made to your local business listings – on Bing or otherwise? Leave us a comment!

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    About the Author
    Tamara Farley
    helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.

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    Facebook Deals Launch: A Quick Guide for Local Business Owners

    Last updated 2 years ago

    Have you heard the buzz? Today, Facebook Deals launches in Dallas, Austin, San Francisco, San Diego and Atlanta. This new offering is different than the Facebook Places deals that are integrated into mobile check-ins, which will be renamed Check-In Deals.

    Essentially, Facebook Deals will offer users who opt in access to deals in their area. The idea is to integrate a deals platform into the existing Facebook experience, the Wall Street Journal reported. Facebook Deals will focus on social experiences, rather than deep discounts that many similar services such as Groupon and LivingSocial provide. Experts say the targeting and data potential of a deals platform integrated into Facebook may be very appealing to advertisers

    Each deal will get its own page, where users can like, share, or buy the deal with a credit card or Facebook credits. This page will have a deal title, value, and discount listed at the top of the page. It will also display thumbnail images of Facebook friends who have purchased or liked that deal, right under the buy, share, or like buttons, along with a large product or service image to anchor the page and all the deal information and fine print. In addition, the page will allow comments, so advertisers can see what people have to say about a deal and respond on the deal page itself if necessary. Once a user has purchased a deal, they will print out a voucher to redeem their purchase. It also appears that users will be able to purchase deals for their Facebook friends, according to page six of the current Facebook Deals Guide for this limited alpha.

    Event Deals will also be available, so advertisers can tie a deal into any Facebook event. For this type of deal, the time and location of the event will be listed at the top of the deal, and the bottom of the deal will integrate an event box listing those who have RSVP’d for the event.

    According to the guide, the service will help businesses stand apart from the crowd by offering memorable experiences people can enjoy with family and friends, creating excitement and word-of-mouth for your business and helping build lasting customer relationships. Plus, people who buy deals with a friend will be offered an additional discount. Facebook Deals will use onsite tools to spread information about the deals naturally, run ads, email people about the deals, and drive traffic to business fan pages, the guide notes.

    So, how will deals be distributed?
    According to Facebook, the following eight distribution methods will help spread the word about Facebook Deals:

    1. The left-hand column of the Home Page will offer quick navigation to deals.
    2. The city deals page will show the deals available within a given area.
    3. Deals will be eligible to appear in sponsored deals units on the right-hand side of the Home Page, showing deals their friends have bought or liked.
    4. Users can send deal messages to friends or share them on their walls.
    5.  When users interact with a deal, news feed stories will share that information with their friends.
    6. Notifications will update users when a friend has purchased or liked a deal they have liked, and when a deal has been purchased for them
    7. Deals may also appear on the right-hand side of other deals in a city.
    8. The site will also email people when their friends buy or like a deal they have liked and offer email updates to users who subscribe.

    At ReachLocal, we are excited to be participating in the launch along with other partners, helping our clients purchase Facebook Deals as a part of our entrance into the local deals space.

    As a Facebook user, have you opted into Facebook Deals? If so, what do you think so far? If not, are you waiting for it launch in your city? Let us know your thoughts about this new deals development in the comments!

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    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    HOW TO: Ask Questions that Get People Talking Online

    Last updated 3 years ago

    When it comes to creating engagement online, one technique to try is asking compelling questions of your fans and followers. Questions are great for a variety of content marketing and social media strategies and can help your content spread and get people to engage with you online. Using questions in your engagement strategy can range from the complex survey to the simple status update. For example, we recently asked our Facebook fans what social media site they use most on the weekends, generating an interesting discussion in the comments. You can also use tools like Facebook Questions or Twitpoll to ask questions online. Not sure where questions play a part in your content strategy? Questions can be helpful for:

    • Writing powerful content headlines
    • Creating polls and surveys
    • Generating social engagement
    • Closing blog posts
    • Participating on Q&A sites

    Developing Engaging Questions   
    So, how can you make sure the questions you’re using will move the needle and generate engagement, likes, and shares? Here are a few tried-and-true strategies to develop strong questions – mix and match these different strategies to create an engaging mix of questions to keep your audience engaged:

    Timely People love talking about whatever’s top-of-mind in the news or pop culture. So, keep a pulse on what’s going on, and integrate timely topics into your questions. You can also find information on hot topics people are searching for under Google’s Hot Searches report or see what people near you geographically are tweeting about real-time about using Trendsmap.

    Topical – For every business, there will be a set of themes or topics that relate to your business in general or that customers of that business type would be interested in. Identify these topics so you can generate questions of interest around those general concepts. For example, customers of a spa might be interested in beauty topics, but also health, fitness, fashion, entertainment, or stress relief. Identifying a variety of topics to ask questions about will help you keep your core audience in mind, making your engagement fresh and authentic.

    Personal – Did you know that one of the top reasons people use social media is to share information about themselves online? People want to express their identities and are aware that what they say and share online shapes how other people see them. So, create questions and answers that enable people to share about themselves with the world. For example, a restaurant could ask people what their favorite dessert is or how they prefer their coffee. When people answer these types of questions, they’re not just sharing information, they’re expressing themselves online. When asking questions of this type, be careful not to venture into deeply personal or private territory.

    Relevant – Want to know what your customers, fans, and followers think about specific issues that are highly relevant to your business? Social media can be a great resource for quick and easy research. So, consider asking questions every once in a while that can help you improve your business, like what products or services people love, when they use them, or what they recommend to their friends.

    Positional – Asking questions that ask people to share their opinion online is an art, and it is certainly not for everyone. It can generate a healthy response and lots of engagement, but be ready, because it can also generate a firestorm you may or may not want to handle! If you want to tread into positional topics or questions, remember the old adage of steering clear of politics, sex, and religion at the dinner table to avoid bitter controversy. Instead, opt for questions that ask people to take a stance on a lighter matter, like which sports team will win the big game or if the iPhone or Android platform is superior.

    Tips for Increasing Engagement

    • Keep it brief. Make questions short, sweet, and simple.
    • Provide simple answers. For polls and surveys, make sure the options you provide are clear and easy to understand.
    • Use a mix of question types. Don’t just stick with one question type. Instead, use a mix of strategies that appeal to different types of customers or fans.
    • Maximize exposure. When you create a poll or survey, share it across multiple sites to generate higher response rates.
    • Make it shareable. The best questions, polls, and surveys get lots of people talking. So, make sure your fans and followers can easily share your questions with their social graph.

    Do you use questions as a strategy to generate engagement in your content marketing or social media strategy? What techniques do you use to create compelling questions that get people talking online?

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    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    Protect Yourself from Scams: Clean Up Your Digital Security with These Tips

    Last updated 3 years ago

    In today’s digital environment, we trust a lot of information to our digital devices. But, did you know that 25% of identity thieves scam or hack their victims online to get their personal information? That’s why it’s important to recognize the warning signs of a popular scams and to take time regularly to make sure that your devices and information are well protected and secure in order to protect yourself and your digital identity.

    So, while you’re taking time to spring clean your email account or digital files, also set aside some time to tidy up and secure your digital presence using these five tips:

    1) Update Your Devices – Whether you’re a PC or Mac user, it’s important to make sure your digital devices are running the most recent, secure versions of operating systems. One important area that updates cover is security issues, so if you haven’t installed updates recently, take a few moments to do so.

    2) Update Your Browser – Many digital scams take advantage of flaws and holes in outdated Internet browsers to install spyware and malware onto your computer to steal your personal data. So, make sure you’re running the most recent version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or your preferred browser.

    3) Create Secure Passwords – Most people (about 77%) have five or more digital accounts that require passwords, and about 35% have 10 or more, according to a recent study. That’s a lot of passwords to keep track of!

    Perhaps that’s why the same study showed that nearly 75% of people use the same passwords across their social networks and their email accounts. Though it may seem harmless, it’s important to make sure your accounts all have unique passwords, especially your email address and banking passwords. So, try these tips to create more secure passwords for all your accounts:

    • Longer is better: Aim for 8-10 characters in each password.
    • Avoid using real words within your password.
    • Avoid using special dates, names, or other information you have posted about yourself anywhere online in your password.
    • Use numbers, letters and special characters to create a mneumonic password acronym you can easily remember for each site. For example, a Twitter password mneumonic might look like this: I Love Twitter! 4 Ever And Ever Every Day, and the password would like like this: ilt!4eaeeD

    4) Update Security Questions – Do you share information about yourself online? Are you one to participate in memes and getting-to-know you games on Facebook or Twitter, sharing details like where you went to middle school or what your favorite color is? If so, be careful when creating answers to security questions for important digital assets, like bank and email accounts, not to use information you’ve posted publicly elsewhere online.

    You might have a great password, but if you’re securing your account with the name of the city you were born in and you’ve proudly posted that information online, your digital security may be at risk. If the cat’s out of the bag and you’ve already posted those personal details about yourself online (or it’s been posted by someone else), then update your security questions with information you know isn't posted anywhere online.

    5) Remove Unused Social Media Apps – When is the last time you logged into your personal Facebook profile or Twitter account to see what apps you’ve given access to your account? If there are any apps you haven’t used in a while, or those that look suspect, you can remove them.

    Facebook: Go to the Manage Facebook Apps Page, which will list apps authorized to your account starting with the most recent at the top. Start at the bottom, with the oldest apps first, and work your way up, deleting any you do not use. You can also edit the settings for any app on this page to control what information the app knows about you. Not all authorizations are required in order to use an app, so make sure you’re comfortable with what each App knows about you (but keep in mind, changing your authorizations may affect whether or how the app functions).

    Twitter: Under Settings > Connections, you can control which apps have access to your Twitter account.

    By using these simple spring cleaning tips, you can help secure your digital presence and protect yourself from scams.

    Do you have any tips for maintaining your digital security or keeping your passwords updated and secure? Share with us in the comments!

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    Share it with your network on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and subscribe today to learn more about creating content, or get updates straight to your inbox.

    About the Author
    Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and small business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.

    Is Social Media Customer Service Too Challenging?

    Last updated 3 years ago

    Social media marketing has become a valuable resource for local businesses; in fact, nearly 70% of local businesses already use Facebook to reach local consumers online.

    The number one value proposition of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, according to the Small Business Success Index, is the ability to identify and attract new customers. But now that consumers are spending more time than ever on social media sites, how can your local business take advantage of this channel for not just acquisition – but customer service as well?

    Here are a few challenges your local business may be facing when it comes to using social channels for customer service, and tips for solving them.

    The Challenge: Customers Talk about You Online
    Many SMBs may not know their online reputation goes well beyond local listings and review sites. Today’s consumers share their opinions and experiences with your business – including complaints –across their social networks too.

    The Solution: Listen Across Social Media
    Listening across all your social media channels not only allows you to gather customer feedback, but it also enables you to measure your marketing effectiveness and social engagement. But many local businesses say they lack the time and resources to effectively use social media, and it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with direct messages, comments, reviews, and mentions. It can even be more difficult to monitor those that are not filtered through a single place or directed toward you via an @mention on Twitter or posted on your business’ Facebook wall.

    To make it easier to filter and respond to customer posts, you can channel them toward your business by creating a special Facebook tab or Twitter account specifically for customer service and support messages. Then encourage your fans and followers to post there, which gives you one central location for collecting customer service data. In addition, giving customers engaging outlets like polls and questions that target customer satisfaction topics can help you gauge your overall performance.

    The Challenge: Customers Want Timely Replies
    In an age of instant gratification, customers want to know you’re listening –and that you have an answer. In fact, 81% of consumers using social media say it's important for businesses to respond to questions and complaints and within a reasonable amount of time.

    The Solution: Respond Immediately & Take Action
    Customers and prospects want to know that you care about their needs. So it’s extremely important to check your Facebook page and Twitter mentions frequently and respond to any customer issues or pertinent questions right away. Big brands like AT&T try to keep all responses within 15 minutes, since that type of active response is highly valued by their customers.

    If customers have an issue that can’t be resolved within the limitations of social media, you should provide an offline channel such as an email or phone number for the customer to speak with you directly, and so you get the complete information you need to best address their complaint. Then, filter any product or service issues to the correct person(s) within your business to improve your operations and prevent future problems.

    The Challenge: Customer Experience Impacts Perception
    One key part of your customer service strategy is the overall experience you provide customers both offline and offline, whether or not they have a problem or complaint. Many businesses take advantage social media to deliver a great customer experience, but it can be challenging for local businesses to build trust and engagement on social media sites. 

    The Solution: Humanize your Social Strategy
    If you have social pages on Facebook and Twitter, make sure they contain a profile pic, bio, and frequent posts that showcase your brand personality and authority in order to establish trust with online consumers. While it’s important to listen to and respond to comments and complaints, it’s equally beneficial for you to interact with your fans and followers on a regular basis and show them the human side of your business. In addition to providing interesting and informative content, you can also create a positive experience by thanking and rewarding fans and followers, participating in customer-initiated conversations, and sharing news about an event or charity you are involved in.  Listening to how your customers respond to you will help you determine the best types of content and conversations that will drive the most engagement on your social media pages.

    Is your local business using social media to deliver exceptional customer service? In what other ways are you integrating social media into your customer service strategy?

    Tamara Farley helps equip small business owners with information about local online advertising, social media marketing, and more as a blogger for ReachCast and ReachLocal.

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